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Legal Separation

Legal Separation: A Step Towards Independence

Legal separation is a serious step that couples can take when they’re having trouble in their marriage but aren’t ready to divorce. It’s like pressing pause on a marriage, giving both parties time to think things over without officially ending the relationship. 

Legal separation in California can be a good option for couples who have religious or personal reasons for not wanting to divorce, or who hope to reconcile in the future. However, it’s important to understand the legal and financial implications before making this decision.

Quick Summary

  • Legal separation offers couples experiencing marital difficulties an alternative to divorce, allowing them to pause their marriage while considering their options.
  • In California, legal separation is a formal process recognized by the court, involving division of property, child custody arrangements, and potentially spousal support.
  • Benefits of legal separation include financial advantages, preservation of marital status for religious or personal reasons, and the possibility of reconciliation.
  • Unlike divorce, legal separation maintains the legal standing of marriage, allowing couples to easily reconcile if desired.
  • Legal separation in California does not have residency requirements, making it accessible for couples who have recently relocated to the state.
  • Legal separation addresses key issues such as child custody, visitation, support, property division, and debt allocation.
  • Obtaining legal separation typically involves filing a petition, negotiating terms with your spouse, drafting a separation agreement, and attending a final hearing for court approval.
Contact the 805 Law Group at (805) 466-4800 today!

What is Legal Separation?

Legal separations are separations that are formally acknowledged by the court. Not all states recognize legal separations. In places that provide legal separations, the process is comparable to seeking a divorce.

One spouse submits a petition for legal separation, allowing a court to oversee the division of assets, child care, child support, and alimony. If both partners agree, they can submit a separation agreement for a judge’s approval, and once a divorce is approved, neither can remarry until it is finalized. 

In some cases, a time limit may be imposed on legal separation. If there is a deadline, you must decide whether to reconcile, remain separated, or proceed with a divorce. Either partner can file for divorce without the other’s consent.

What Are the Benefits of Legal Separation?

There are several benefits to legal separations over divorces.

Financial Benefits

A formal separation allows both parties to maintain their medical, life, and other insurance benefits, as well as potentially receive each other’s social security payments. Tax benefits also continue post-separation.

Cultural or Religious Considerations

Many religions and societies discourage or outright prohibit divorce. Under the terms of a legal separation, both parties can preserve their marital status while living apart.

Possibility of Returning to Full Marriage

A formal separation can serve as a trial period for couples who need a break from their marriage, but desire to potentially reconcile if things improve. This can make the process of returning to a full marriage easier.

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation?

The primary difference between separation and divorce is that separation preserves the legal standing of the marriage, whereas divorce dissolves it. A divorce is irreversible, and it is exceedingly difficult to challenge a divorce order. 

Separations are easy to achieve. If you have had a trial separation or a permanent separation from your partner, you can easily reconcile. Simply submit a motion or request with the court requesting the court to stop the separation if you are legally separated. Other distinctions between separation and divorce are as follows:

  • Decision-Making Authority. A divorce ends whatever decision-making authority you have over your partner, while in separation, you can still make medical or financial choices as their next-of-kin.
  • Property Rights. In some states, when married couples divorce, they forfeit all rights and responsibilities regarding income, obligations, and property acquired by the other partner as of the separation date. 
  • Benefit Entitlements. Health insurance benefits may still be available to you if separated, but not if divorced. The specifics depend on state law and the terms of the insurance policy. It is important to carefully review shared benefits before a permanent or legal separation.

What Are the Legal Separation Requirements in California?

A legal separation, unlike a divorce process, does not have a residence requirement. Therefore, you do not need to be a California resident for at least six months or your filing county for at least three months. Many people who have just relocated to California and wish to dissolve their marriage choose a legal separation, so they may begin the procedure without having to wait months.

In other words, if you and your partner have a complete agreement, you can get a Judgment of Legal Separation far more quickly than a Judgment of Divorce.

What Are the Reasons for a Legal Separation?

The reasons for a legal separation are similar to those for a divorce. According to California Family Code Section 2310, a legal separation can be based on the following reasons:

  • Irreconcilable differences that have led to the marriage breaking down irreversibly
  • One party who has incurable sanity at the time of marriage

In California, legal separations operate on a “no-fault” system, meaning you don’t need to prove wrongdoing for approval. For claiming incurable insanity, proof from a medical professional is necessary. Due to the difficulty of proving this, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a family law attorney.

What Issues Does a Legal Separation Address?

Every legal separation in California involves the same fundamental issues:

  • Child Custody. Who has the authority to decide on the children of the marriage and where they reside.
  • Child Visitation. The daily parenting plan, including holidays and vacations.
  • Child Support. In California, “guidelines” are used to determine child subsistence based on each parent’s income and the time the children spend with each parent.
  • Spousal Support. Sometimes referred to as alimony, the sub-issues of whether or not support is appropriate, the amount of support, and the length of time it should be paid must be addressed.
  • Property Division. Everything possessed, including retirement funds, bank accounts, and real estate, as well as furniture, fixtures, and appliances, must be split.
  • Debt Allocation. This entails splitting everything due, including credit card obligations, personal loans, and tax bills.
  • Lawyer Costs. A person may be required to pay the other partner’s lawyer expenses because one has more means to pay legal costs than the other. Another reason is that one companion misbehaved and was penalized during the divorce procedures.

What is the Process of Legal Separation?

Knowing the steps in a California legal separation can help you understand what will happen.

  • Get Help From a Lawyer. Consulting with a family law attorney is crucial during a legal separation. They can clarify legal requirements, negotiate on your behalf, and strive for the best outcome.
  • File the Petition. Fill out and submit a petition to the court outlining your reasons for separation and your requests.
  • Serve Your Spouse. Provide your spouse with a copy of the petition and a summons, typically through a sheriff’s deputy or process server, and provide proof of service to the court.
  • Discuss and Agree on the Terms. Once served, discuss separation details with your spouse, including child custody, support, and division of assets and debts.
  • Complete the Agreement.Draft and sign a separation agreement detailing agreed-upon terms, to be submitted to the court for approval.
  • Attend the Final Hearing. At the final hearing, the court will review and approve the separation agreement, formalizing the terms of your separation.

How Long Does a Legal Separation in California Take?

Getting legally separated in California is quicker and easier than getting a divorce. There is no residency requirement or waiting period for legal separation, and once approved by a judge, it is official immediately. However, a divorce in California requires a minimum of six months and one day. Legal separation may take longer if terms cannot be agreed upon, leading to potential court involvement and delays.

Why Do I Need a Legal Separation Attorney in San Luis Obispo, CA?

When you and your spouse separate, it’s more than just living apart. You’ll need to split up what you own and owe, which can be tough, especially if you don’t have a prenup or postnup. A legal separation attorney can help you decide what’s best for your situation.

Understand Your Rights and Obligations: 

To understand what you can and must do when separating from your partner, it’s advisable to talk to a separation lawyer in San Luis Obispo. They know a lot about California laws and can help you figure out what’s fair and legal. 

Figure Out Complicated Rules: 

The rules about separating can be hard to understand. But a lawyer who knows about separation can explain everything and make it easier for you to follow the rules.

Keep Yourself Safe: 

When you’re breaking up with your partner, there are a lot of things to think about, like who gets to take care of the kids and how to share money and stuff. A good lawyer can help you make sure you’re being treated fairly and that you’re not missing out on anything important.

Call Our Legal Separation Attorney In San Luis Obispo, CA Now!

Don’t jump into legal separation blindly if you’re unsure if it is right for you. Instead, get the advice of an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process and ensure that it’s the right move before you start down this road. Here at 805 Law Group, we’ve been helping people with legal separations in San Luis Obispo for over 20 years. 

So when you contact our law office, you’ll be speaking to a group of people who’ve helped a client just like yourself make informed decisions about their futures. We will sit down with you for a consultation to discuss your case and help you understand your options moving forward, so don’t hesitate to contact us today for legal assistance. 

Our law firm can also assist you with Personal Injury and Mediation. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Get the personal attention you deserve in your parole case – call our firm at (805) 420-7547